Sorry this took so long to finish! Rainie is a recovered addict in this.
Mum mentioned not so long ago that she would be away for a few days this week, so when I started running again I ended up at the house I grew up in, in North London.
I spent two days moping about, sulking and even crying. I didn't eat, I barely drank and only just slept enough to keep me going.
All I could think about was my sweet angel lying there in a hospital bed almost lifeless, and it was all down to me. I caused her pain.
I was laid on the couch in my Mother's living room, hand over my face, eyes drained of tears and I smelt as though I hadn't had a shower in days, purely because I hadn't. What did I need to get a shower for? I didn't have Lauren to impress any more, I didn't have anyone to smell clean for, so why should I have to make an effort? Myself isn't a good enough excuse.
Today was a Monday and I had only just managed to pull myself off the couch and when I looked into the mirror, only to see what looked like death staring right back at me, I knew that this, whoever I was becoming must stop, soon.
Throwing the can of lager I was holding in my right hand into the kitchen bin my body dragged itself up the stairs, turned the shower on and forced myself to get a wash, finally.
I decided that right now, getting myself sorted was my number one priority. Once I had done that, then I could go back to Lauren and I could apologise for all the stupid mistakes that I had myself cause, then maybe, just maybe, she'll forgive me.
As I stood in the shower I let the remaining tears fall down my face as the water washed them away, I couldn't understand how I let not only Lauren, but myself get so messed up in only a matter of months. Things were already complicated for us but me being me obviously had to make everything a lot more worse than it should have been.
I put back all the negative thoughts to the back of my mind, agreeing that the only thing I should be thinking about was getting back that gorgeous brown eyed girl of mine.
Getting out of the shower I pulled the towel round my waist, leaving the bathroom to get myself ready. Once deciding that I shouldn't just jet off back to Walford in the next five minutes and should probably wait until tomorrow, I walked into the kitchen and began preparing a healthy meal, making up a speech in my head of what I could say to Lauren, pretty happy with myself. Until I was cut from my thoughts when my phone rang.
Walking over to where it was placed on table I picked up, answering once I saw it was Alice, "Al, I'm sorry for not answering your calls these past few days, I let the stupid inner me take over and-"
"Joey you need to come home right now!" Alice cut me off.
"Why, what's wrong? Is Lauren ok? She's ok isn't she, please tell me she's ok!" I rushed, needing an answer.
"She's doing better but she's leaving Joey, you need to come home now! You're the only one that can stop her!"
My eyes went wide at what I'd just heard, "Wh-what do you mean she's leaving?"
"She's leaving Walford and she's not coming back, if you don't come home and stop her you're never going to see her again Joey," Alice said, sympathy in her voice.
"I'm on my way" we're the only words to leave my mouth before I put down the phone as I ran up the stairs and quickly gathered my things.
I arrived on the square around two and a half hours later due to not realising that when I left for Mum's the other day I didn't have my wallet or anything with me.
The first house I headed for was Number 5, the house me and Lauren had spent so many important firsts together. Walking up the steps I banged on the door a lot heavier than necessary only to be given no answer. I carried on knocking just to be greeted with no movement what so ever.
After a few more knocks at the door followed by a few shouts through the letter box I turned around and faced the square until I accepted that she's already possibly gone. Running my hands down my face I sat down on the step, fighting against the tears that pricked at my eyes.
I looked up again when I heard my name being called to find my Uncle Jack staring at me with nothing but sympathy in his eyes.
"She's gone mate," Jack said to me as he stood there, waiting for a reaction.
Standing up again I nodded my head slightly before I walked down the steps of Number 5 and straight past the older male.
She was gone. Lauren was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.
Three weeks late I still hadn't had any contact with Lauren and not one person on the square is willing to give me any information on where she may be. It was really, really starting to annoy me. Every single one of them wants them back and they all know that I am the only person that she will come home with eventually but they still won't tell me.
I went back to moping about the house only this time I did actually eat and take a shower. Alice wasn't impressed that I was always lounging about on the sofa but what else did I have to do? The only way I was going to find Lauren was if someone told me where she might be but no. No one wants to do that. Everyone wants to see poor little Joseph Branning in a constant sulk, hiding away from reality.
That evening I decided to take a quite stroll to try and clear my head but instead I ran into Peter Beale, Lucy's twin brother and Lauren's childhood sweetheart, which made him my worst enemy.
"You alright Joey?" he asked me, somewhat desperate to make sure I'm ok.
Looking up at him I just glared, "What do you care ey, Peter? Last I heard you couldn't wait to get me and Lauren apart"
Sighing he motioned for me to sit down outside the café, I didn't want to at first but what harm could it do really?
"I'm worried about her" Peter told me.
"You know where she is?"
He nodded at me but held his hand up, silently telling me to let him speak, "I've been in touch with her since she left as, in her words, I was the only friend she could rely on right now. I know that she's with the best person that she could be with right now but I haven't heard a word from her in three days which isn't like her at all, she'd text me at least three times a day."
"Peter what are you saying? Do you think she's in trouble? You have to tell me where she is Peter, please," I pleaded.
"I'm not worried about her, I just think that someone should go and check on her, her Aunt Rainie may have been clear for a few years now but Lauren needs the people that love her the most around her and even though I hate to admit, your the best person for her right now"
"Did you say Rainie? She's at Rainie's house?" I asked him before receiving a nod. Once I thanked him I quickly left the market and headed straight home to grab my travel card.
It took just over two hours to get to Eastbourne which wasn't so bad but it was going to take me a lot longer to find out where Rainie actually lives all I knew is that she lives by the beach in an apartment.
I headed for the sea front and began walking along it, looking for people that may give me some help in finding them. Pulling out my phone I looked for Abi's number and pressed call, putting the phone to my ear.
"Hello?" she answered, slightly confused.
"Abi I'm here. Now tell me her address!" I demanded.
"Joey? Where? Who's address" I could only picture her face when she realised what I was talking about, "No Joey! You have to stay away from her, leave her alone, she doesn't want to see her. Come back home now!"
All I could do was keep asking, I tried not to get angry with her, she's a Branning and she's stubborn.
"C'mon Abi, please. It's breaking my heart not being able to see her and you know it's breaking her too even though she won't admit it. We need one another to get better. Just tell me where she is. Please. I'm already in Eastbourne, I just need Rainie's address." I could go at this all day if I had too.
Sighing I heard Abi move around and a few doors shutting, "If I tell you where she is and you mess things I won't be responsible for who I tell and what I tell them to do to you. Lauren doesn't need the hassle, she needs people who love her, that can keep her safe" she whispered.
"You know I can make her feel all of those things Abi" I confessed.
"Rainie lives in the San Diego Way apartments on the sea front by the shopping complex, apartment 34, tell her I love her and say Hi"
"Thank you so much Abs! I owe you big time!" I exclaimed before putting the phone down and turned in the direction of where I needed to head.
It didn't take me long to find them at all but I was currently discussing with myself whether or not this was actually a good idea, would she really want to see me or will I just make things a lot worse than they are?
Putting my thoughts aside I began descending the stairs giving me more time to think about what I could say but it didn't take me long to arrive at flat 34.
I hesitated before knocking at the door, praying that it would be Rainie knowing that I would be able to talk her round to let me in but if it was Lauren, it would take a lot more than that.
Hearing shuffling around behind the door got my hopes up, someone was in so that was a good sign.
I was looking down when the door opened, just to look up into the eyes of that broken and vulnerable yet never looked so gorgeous face.
"Joey.." she whispered, her voice so soft and broken.
Tears began to prick at my eyes, a huge flew ball forming in my throat, "I'm so sorry, Lauren"
A single tear rolled down her face as she slowly nodded. I reached forward and wiped it away, pushing the hair behind her ear, "Please don't cry"
"Why are you here Joey? You need to go" she said quietly, leaning into my hand that was resting against her cheek before she pulled it away.
Shaking my head I looked into her eyes, "Please don't make me go Lauren, please just let me in so we can talk"
She was hesitant at first but she finally opened the door enough so that I could just slide past her frail body. Leading me into what I assumed was the room she was staying in, Lauren closed the door and motioned for me to side on the bed beside her.
"I can't come back home, you can't make me come home. Rainie's helping me so much and you can't take me away from her so don't even try" she told me, suddenly becoming her stubborn-self again.
"I'm not here to take you anywhere Lauren, I'm just here to win back my girl" I said softly, making her blush.
"No Joey, we can't be together any more, look at me, just look at me. I'm a mess! I'm a mess because we were a mess!" Lauren forced out, throwing her hands up in the air slightly.
Leaning forward she placed her face in her hands and closed her eyes, silently crying. I placed my hand on her back, gently stroking up and down when she didn't shrug me away but her sobs became louder and heavier which made me pull her into a hug, not being able to bear the thought of her breaking down with no-one to comfort her any longer.
When she didn't fight me away I tightened my grasp on, placing light kisses to her hair, as I whispered to her, "We can make this work you know Lauren. Me and you. We don't have to go back there, we can stay here or we can even go somewhere else. Lands end, up North or even aboard if you wanted too, I don't care where we go just as long as we're together."
Lauren tightened her grip on the lapels of my jacket, burying her face into my neck even more if that was possible, shocking the life out of me with what she said next.
"I love you"
At first I didn't know how to react, I just sat there, holding her close to me whilst a smile slowly began to form on my face as I whispered back to her, "I love you too"
We just sat there, on the end of the bed in silence, neither one of us making an effort to talk or move, we just held each other until I couldn't take it any longer and moved slightly so that I could see her buried face. As I moved her hair out of her face she looked into my eyes and smiled ever so slightly.
I placed my fingers under her chin and slowly brought her face to meet mine, giving her time to move away if she needed to but to my surprise she didn't.
Our lips connected in a gentle yet passionate kiss, it was one of those where the term 'actions speak louder than words' moments. Neither of us had to say anything, it was all in that one kiss.
As we broke apart she placed her forehead on mine, the pair of us just staring into one another's eyes. I found the hem of her shirt, lifting it up a little so that I could trace small circles on her lower back knowing how much it calmed her down.
"Can we lay here and just be together for a moment?" she asked quietly and without saying anything I kicked off my shoes and moved us both up the bed so that we could just lay in each others arms.
Kissing her lips softly when she looked up at me I moved so that our faces were only centimetres apart, brushing her nose against mine I whispered to her, "I need you Lauren, and you need me"
"I know" was all it took her to say for me to know that we we're going to be alright.
I was determined to make this girl happy for the rest of her life.
Let me know what you think! :D